Best Nature Centers in New Jersey to Visit with Kids

If you’re feeling burned out on indoor play spaces and museums, and longing for spring, try a visit to of New Jersey's awesome nature centers. No need to worry if the weather's still a little iffy—there are plenty throughout the state with programs happening year-round.

We've rounded up 10 nature centers that combine both indoor and outdoor fun for kids of all ages. Spend some time exploring nature and checking out hands-on exhibits and activities that explain our local flora and fauna. Most places on our list are open year-round, except for major holidays.

Fun Things To Do with Kids in Montclair, New Jersey

Nestled in Essex County, Montclair is located just 12 miles outside of Manhattan. This walkable suburb is home to Montclair State University, the Presby Iris Gardens, and the Montclair Art Museum, as well as 18 public parks and two nature preserves. From the Upper Montclair shopping area to the Church Street storefronts in Montclair Center, the town's eclectic restaurants and kid-friendly activities make it a fun day trip for families in Northern New Jersey.

Read on for the top places to visit and things to do during your visit.

A Dozen New Party Spots to Celebrate Kids' Birthdays in New Jersey

New year, new birthday party to plan! And luckily for Garden State parents, there are new party places popping up every day. From just-teed-up trampoline parks to Brooklyn-transplant ice cream parlors, these new-to-Jersey hot spots have more than enough hype to meet your little ones’ birthday riders. Check out some of the newbies below—and if you need more inspiration, brush up on our list of the best places for kids to party in NJ. The old standbys never fail to make them smile!

30+ Indoor Play Spaces for Kids in Northern New Jersey

Neither flurries nor rain, nor heat nor cold should keep New Jersey children from enjoying a day of play—especially when there are so many awesome indoor play spaces in Northern Jersey. From toddler play dates to teen outings, we've compiled a list of the best indoor playgrounds in Northern New Jersey where kids can drop in for play. No memberships needed! If you're looking for sites that are a bit farther south, check out this listing of Central Jersey play spaces.

Horse and Riding Summer Camps for New Jersey Kids

if the sound of neighing is music to your child's ears, then these are the camps for you! Lots of New Jersey barns teach riding skills, along with horse grooming, tacking up, and equipment care. Many of the horse camps also offer traditional summer camp activities, such as swimming and arts and crafts, along with mini July sessions (for children who are just getting in the saddle for the first time, and not quite ready for a full week of equestrian adventuring) and both half and full-day itineraries. To find more New Jersey summer camps, be sure to check out our Camp Guide and Full Directory of Listings

Top 12 Indoor Play Spaces Across New Jersey

Looking for an indoor play space that makes your jaw drop and your kids jump for joy? We've rounded up a dozen of the biggest and best spots for playing, jumping, bouncing, climbing, and thrill-seeking throughout New Jersey. 

The Garden State is home to tons of awesome play spaces, and it was tough choosing just 12. We limited our list to those with major wow factor—places where you can tackle a Ninja Warrior–style obstacle course, play laser tag, climb on and through play mazes, bounce on inflatables and trampolines, play arcade games, scale rock walls, and even go roller skating or bowling. While most of these spots aren't specifically geared toward the smaller set, all have areas and/or times set aside just for them. 

Read on to find out which fun zones made the cut. And for even more options, check out our guide to indoor play spaces, where you'll find drop-in play for $15 or less, the best trampoline parks and bounce houses in NJ, and much more. 

Special Needs Summer Camps in New Jersey

Summer camp is a pastime that every child should have the opportunity to experience, and for parents with little ones with special needs, it can be incredibly frustrating and tedious to pinpoint programs that are good fits for their sons and daughters. Because there are so many more sensory and developmental factors a special needs parent needs to consider, it can be overwhelming at times. So, here is a small list of camps that not only accommodate, but cater to, children on the autism spectrum as well as children with developmental disabilities. 

You can find more New Jersey summer camps in our Camp Guide and Full Directory of Listings

15 Great Summer Tennis Camps in New Jersey

It may be winter, but it’s never too early to start thinking about summer camp. From day camps to art camps to riding and horse camps, the options in New Jersey are endless. If you’re looking to get your little Serena Williams some fundamental instruction or give your beginner basic lessons, try a week long tennis camp for fitness, team play and overall summer fun! And to find out all the day camp options in NJ, check out our New Jersey Summer Day Camp Guide.

Christmas Day Fun in New Jersey: What's Open on the Holiday?

Christmas Day is historically a homebound holiday, with parents and children staying in to revel in new presents and spend time with family and friends. But once all the gifts have been opened and the festive potluck polished off, that holiday spirit is still alive and well, leaving kids raring to burn off the last of their candy cane and sugar plum high.

Since shopping malls are largely out of the question until Tuesday, and most indoor play spaces are closed for biz on December 25, there’s not too much recreation readily around the corner. But Mommy Poppins searched high and low to see what’s open on Christmas—and thankfully, there are quite a few fun finds! From bowling and movies to festive light displays, we've rounded up 12 ideas to help you get out of the house on the holiday (plus one for those who prefer staying cozy inside.)

Quaint and Quirky Holiday Celebrations for New Jersey Families

We all have our favorite family holiday traditions, whether it’s viewing an annual light display, cutting down a fresh Christmas tree, or having breakfast with Santa. All good stuff, to be sure. But if you’re looking to shake things up this year, try an experience you won't find at your local mega-mall.

One option is to go small: New Jersey’s charming small towns play host to a variety of quaint holiday happenings, from Dickens carolers to Christmas Candlelight House Tours.

If you're after something truly unique, NJ has plenty of that, too. You can celebrate Christmas Underwater at Adventure Aquarium, get festive with the furry residents of Bluebird Farm Alpacas, or explore an animated wonderland at the Christmas Ice Caverns.

Who knows? One of these activities might become your family’s new holiday favorite. Check out our roundup below for some great small-town and off-the-beaten-path fun. For more ways to celebrate the festive holiday season, visit our Holiday Fun Guide.


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